I hope everyone had a blessed Thanksgiving and I just want to say how thankful I am to write this article every week and to interact with my readers on Twitter whenever possible. As always, send me your questions to @JonasNader on Twitter and I'll get to them as soon as possible. There are some regulars in this week's column that still aren't getting the respect they deserve and some exciting new faces too, so let's dive right in!
Week 7 Schedule: Games Played
4 games: CHA, CHI, DAL, DEN, IND, LAL, MIA, PHI, PHX, POR, SAC, WAS
3 games: ATL, BKN, CLE, DET, GSW, HOU, LAC, MEM, MIL, MIN, NOP, NYK, OKC, ORL, TOR, UTA
2 games: BOS, SAS
45% to 36% Owned in Yahoo Leagues:
Josh Hart (44%)- After returning from a 7-game absence for ankle/knee issues, Hart didn’t exactly hit the ground running in his last two games, hitting 4-of-14 shots from the field. However, he played 25 and 31 minutes in those games and still averaged a respectable 9.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 2.0 triples. He was very productive before the injuries and we know the workload is going to be there with Kenrich Williams (ankle) expected to miss time, so Hart is worth deploying in standard leagues even in a 3-game week. Whether or not he holds value when Zion Williamson (knee) comes back in mid-December remains to be seen but he’ll be solid in the short term at least.
Kelly Olynyk (44%)- He was in my column last week and was clearly inspired by it… Olynyk is coming off a red-hot stretch, scoring at least 15 points in three straight games and has played at least 24 minutes too. He also has a total of 24 rebounds and seven triples in that little stretch. He’s posting top-70 numbers in 9-cat over the last two weeks, and a lineup change could be coming with Meyers Leonard playing like a poor man’s Dragan Bender. Plus, the advanced stats love him with Olynyk’s +9.8 net rating trailing only Jimmy Butler in Miami. Start him everywhere in a 4-game week.
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Derrick White (43%)- If you can get by this week pretty comfortably, I’d recommend picking up White despite the two-game week. The Spurs have made some changes to their lineup after stumbling out of the gate to a 7-13 start, and it sounds like White is going to stick with the starters with Dejounte Murray still finding his way. White is coming off his best game of the season with 17 points, three rebounds, three assists and five triples in 28 minutes vs. the Clippers, one day after coach Gregg Popovich told him to start letting it fly from 3-point range. There’s legitimate top-75 upside here if White can approach 30 minutes, and we can’t ignore the long-term implications of what a possible DeMar DeRozan trade could do for White’s value down the stretch.
Nerlens Noel (43%)- I’m prepared to call Nerlens Noel a must-own player even though he’s still not getting a full workload behind Steven Adams. Adams has turned the corner in recent games, but the Thunder are limiting his minutes by design because of a lingering knee issue — he’s playing 26.3 minutes compared to 33.4 last season.
That leaves roughly 20 minutes for Noel most nights, and that’s enough for standard-league value with his elite rebounding and defensive stats. In his last three games, Noel has averaged exactly 20.0 minutes with 8.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.7 blocks, and he’s usually good for at least a steal per game (he averages 2.2 steals and 2.2 blocks per 36 minutes for his career). You can make a strong argument that Noel has been the better player, but even if a lineup change isn’t brewing, I think there’s a pretty good chance Adams is traded.
Markelle Fultz (42%)- Fultz has been a regular on this column but I would hope this is the last week his ownership rate of 42% qualifies. His minutes are way up these days just like coach Steve Clifford promised, and Fultz has been an 8th-round value in 9-cat over his last seven games with 14.7 points, 4.1 assists, 2.6 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 0.6 triples on 53.2% from the field and 88.2% from the line. He has the second best net rating on the Magic this season, and he’s going to enjoy a boost to his value until Nikola Vucevic (ankle) returns. With Vooch off the court, Fultz is putting up per-36 stats of 19.0 points, 6.6 assists, 3.8 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 0.8 triples.
Tim Hardaway Jr. (40%)- Dallas has been a fantasy wasteland outside of their two stars, but THJ has emerged as the third option on offense in recent games. In his last five outings, THJ has been one of the hottest guards in the West, posting early-round value with 20.2 points, 2.8 assists, 1.8 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 4.0 triples on 60% shooting. It sounds like he’s going to stick in the starting lineup too, with coach Rick Carlisle saying he “fits well with the group” while also praising his defense and passing, two things that THJ isn’t usually known for. The shooting will trail off eventually but I think THJ is a must-own player right now, especially since Delon Wright and Seth Curry aren’t bringing much to the table.
35% to 26% Owned in Yahoo Leagues:
De'Andre Hunter (35%)- His shooting has gone off the rails, hitting 29.5% from the field over his last four games. The minutes are still there though, as the rookie has played at least 35 minutes in five of his last six. If you can stomach the shooting percentages that would only make the 2016 version of Andrew Wiggins jealous, Hunter is still a solid source of counting stats with 13.7 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.3 triples. I just wish he wasn’t allergic to steals and blocks. You can squeeze another week of value out of him before Kevin Huerter (shoulder) returns in a week or so.
Moritz Wagner (28%)- Unfortunately for Wagner, he’s currently questionable for Sunday vs. the Clippers with a left ankle sprain as I’m writing this. I’m still holding even if he sits though, as Wagner has been trending up for weeks and might be the next breakout off the waiver wire. He’s already a 9th-round value on the season in just 19 minutes per game, and lately he’s been taking minutes away from Thomas Bryant too. Wagner has a diverse stat set but the missing piece of his fantasy value is Washington’s reluctance to use him alongside Bryant. Coach Scott Brooks did hint that he would eventually explore that combo, and that would make it possible for Wagner to approach 25 minutes per game. Let’s hold on here and hope the ankle issue isn’t serious.
Mo Bamba (26%)- Despite Khem Birch getting the bulk of the workload in Nikola Vucevic’s absence, Bamba has been the much better fantasy asset. In his last four games without Vooch, Bamba is putting up top-75 numbers in 9-cat in just 20.4 minutes, averaging 10.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 0.5 steals, 2.3 blocks and 1.8 triples. These are head-turning numbers from a player that many people seem to have given up on, but he’s showing that he’s the real deal even with Magic holding his minutes back as a precaution — they are keeping a close eye on his leg ever since his stress reaction as a rookie.
25% and Under in Yahoo Leagues:
Cedi Osman (20%)- To be brutally honest, Osman didn’t look like an NBA player earlier this season. But credit to him for turning things around in recent weeks, and you better believe the front office is breathing a sigh-of-relief after that extension they gave him this summer. Osman is coming off his best game of the season with a 20-point gem against the Bucks, and he’s been a top-70 player in 9-cat over his last five with 14.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.0 steals and 2.2 triples on 47.2% from the field. Of course those numbers are a bit skewed with Kevin Love missing two of those with a bad back, but his last two games with Love were terrific as well.
Darius Garland (20%)- If you’re looking for some late-season upside and don’t mind a bumpy ride, Garland is on the radar as a pickup with some improved play in recent weeks. His minutes are up again with 31 or more in three of his last five, posting 11th-round numbers in non-turnover leagues with 16.0 points, 2.6 assists, 1.6 rebounds and 3.2 triples. He’s been lights out from deep just like he was at Vanderbilt, hitting 43.9% in his last 12 games. He has a long way to go as a well-rounded fantasy asset but he’s trending up fast.
Frank Ntilikina (19%)- Steals are the most disrespected category in fantasy basketball and Frank is pretty good evidence of that. Even when his offense has been non-existent at times, he’s still keeping his value afloat with 4.7 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.0 triples. If he’s flirting with top-100 numbers when his shot is ice cold it makes a lot of sense to stick with him.
Rodney Hood (18%)- It’s probably time for me give Hood a bit more respect. He’s now scored in double digits in five straight games, and he’s been running circles around Kent Bazemore and Mario Hezonja for Portland. He’s been a top-75 player in that stretch, averaging 14.2 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.0 steals and 2.0 triples, shooting a blistering 66.7% from the field. The shooting will come down a bit, but maybe not as much as you’d think with Hood leading the NBA in eFG% on his catch-and-shoot attempts.
Jarrett Culver (15%)- Culver has started the last two games at point guard and every indication from Minnesota is that this is a move that will stick for the long haul. Culver didn’t light up the stat sheet in either game with averages of 12.0 points, 4.0 assists, 3.5 rebounds, 1.5 steals, 0.5 blocks and 1.0 triples, but once his shooting percentages stabilizes he’s going to hit another gear. Culver was arguably the most dominant two-way player in the NCAA not named Zion Williamson and it’s just a matter of time before he finds his feet offensively.
He’s already a 62nd percentile pick-and-roll ball-handler above the likes of LeBron James and Devin Booker just to name a couple, and his per-36 stats next to Karl-Anthony Towns, Robert Covington and Andrew Wiggins are fantastic with 17.5 points, 6.7 assists, 6.7 rebounds, 1.0 blocks and 1.5 triples. There’s top-75 upside here if he can get his percentages up to college levels.
Jerami Grant (15%)- Paul Millsap was bound to cool off even though coach Malone said last week that he was their best player so far this season. Millsap is coming off two brutal games and was even benched down the stretch of the last one, while Grant has taken advantage. He’s averaging 16.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.0 steals and 1.5 triples in 30.0 minutes over his last two, and we know he can block shots too. I’m not ready to drop anyone with top-100 value for Grant but he’s one more good showing away from becoming a hot pickup.
Garrett Temple (14%)- Kyrie Irving (shoulder) isn’t even taking contact in practice yet and doesn’t sound anywhere close to a return, and sources tell me he's still writing an Instagram Post defending his move from Boston. Temple isn’t the most exciting fantasy asset and I’m certainly not cutting a top-100 player for him, but he’s going to be a viable streamer until the Nets get one of Irving or Caris LeVert (thumb) back. Temple has played at least 30 minutes in seven straight, averaging 12.1 points, 3.1 dimes, 3.6 rebounds, 1.0 steals and 3.0 triples on 44% shooting.
Tyus Jones (13%)- Jones has been a little overrated in the past when he takes over as the starting PG but he’s still one of the top pickups of the week. Ja Morant (back) is considered week-to-week, and the Grizzlies are going to take their sweet time bringing him back. Jones is putting up per-36 stats of 11.0 points, 8.5 assists, 2.4 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 0.5 triples, and his per-minute upside is higher than recent years with the Grizzlies pushing the pace with their five-out offense. If you’re in a very deep league, keep a close eye on De’Anthony Melton too in case Taylor Jenkins suddenly realizes that Grayson Allen has no business being on an NBA roster. Melton led the NBA in steal percentage last season.
Kris Dunn (13%)- Chicago shook up their starting lineup against the Blazers and threw Dunn in with the starters, and it sounds like it may stick. He played 29 minutes with nine points, seven rebounds, two assists, two steals and one triple, and while his shot has been non-existent all season, his steal rate alone might make him worth picking up. In fact, he’s leading the NBA in steal percentage with 3.4 swipes per 36 minutes.
Omari Spellman (5%)- I took a flier on Spellman in a few leagues and have been pretty happy with the results so far. He’s posting top-70 numbers over his last five, averaging 12.2 points, 6.2 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.8 steals, 1.4 blocks and 2.0 triples in 25.5 minutes. That workload could stick even with Kevon Looney (hamstring) nearing a return, as the Warriors are limiting Draymond Green’s minutes for the tank and because Spellman can play both frontcourt spots. Plus, Willie Cauley-Stein is laughably bad (Kings should’ve warned them).
Keita Bates-Diop (3%)- Jake Layman (toe) will miss his fifth straight game on Sunday, but the Wolves won’t be in a rush to bring him back thanks to Bates-Diop. The second-year wing has been terrific, averaging 17.0 points, 4.3 rebounds, 0.7 steals, 0.7 blocks and 3.0 triples in 28.9 minutes over his last three games. The Wolves are comfortable using him at both forward spots and there’s a chance he keeps his rotation spot when Layman comes back. If he plays well vs. the Grizzlies on Sunday I think he’s worth taking a flier on for his multi-category upside in a fantasy-friendly offense.
*Dec. 2 Late Additions:
Christian Wood (4%)- I had to go back and add Wood to this column after watching the young fella go off for a career-high 28 points with 10 rebounds, two assists, one steal, one block and two triples in just 22 minutes(!). The game was a blowout so garbage time was a factor, but I think this game puts the final nail in the coffin of the Thon Maker experiment.
Wood's per-minute upside is off the charts, but the Pistons keep messing with his workload and that's why he's been the most added/dropped player for me across my leagues. Maybe coach Dwane Casey sticks with him this time, and all I'm asking for is just 20 minutes per night. And if the Pistons don't turn their season around and move one or both of Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin, Wood is going to be a fantasy league winner.
De'Anthony Melton (1%)- I had Melton as a "watch list" guy but he exceeded my expectations on Sunday with Ja Morant (back) out. Melton led the NBA in steal rate last season and had two in 23 minutes vs. the Wolves, but also flirted with a triple-double with nine points, seven rebounds, eight assists, one block and one triple. The front office is really high on Melton and I think the second-year guard is going to force Taylor Jenkins' hand when it comes to his minutes going forward. He's a solid flier in deeper leagues.